John The Baptist – 15th Jan 2017

JOHN 1: 29-42

Our Gospel lesson today begins with one of the ultimate encounters of all time … John the Baptist, coming face to face with Jesus. This moment has been shared in many paintings where we see a gaunt John, pointing his bony finger at the One he had said was to come. I was once told that in John’s simple announcement, Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, perfectly sums up the entire Gospel.

Perhaps that is so, but unfortunately, I fear, this Gospel lesson is filled with images that lack simplicity for many.

Every once in a while it is important to stop and look closely at these familiar symbols and make sure we are really seeing what’s there.

Behold the Lamb of God! That does not have the hold today that it did for people living two-thousand years ago. We do not see many lambs and have to go miles to see a herd of sheep.

But this is why it is important to learn the language of faith. No one should expect to be able to wander into a church and fully understand a service or Gospel lesson or indeed a sermon.

In Jesus’ day the lamb had two important meanings:

First it conveyed a sense of innocence and pureness, and secondly it was also the symbol of God having delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt, an event marked by the slaughter of a lamb for the feast of the Passover.

John takes the symbol of the lamb and likens it not just to the Passover but also to human sinfulness. His Gospel makes it clear that this Lamb is not exclusively for God’s chosen people but for everyone for the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world not just the chosen ones.

Whilst the world in which we live may need more wisdom and more scientific technology and more television channels, we also need to learn how to live together in peace and love, to be saved from our self-indulgence and selfish self-involvement, and … to be prepared for the certainty that we will not live forever, for ultimately we will return to our loving God, who first gave us life.

Today especially the world needs a Saviour. But that is exactly what we have been given ..a Saviour … born of the Blessed Virgin. Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

Our Gospel also tells of a conversation between Jesus and two disciples of John the Baptist the wild man of the desert. When John sees Jesus, he shouts out, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” He tells his followers to change their allegiance to Jesus. Two left and followed Jesus who turns to them and says, “What are you looking for?” and I believe this is the most fundamental and basic question we need to ask ourselves.

They say, “Teacher, where are you staying.”

Jesus says, “Come and See.”

That simple invitation … Come and see … launched the Jesus Movement. Before long others were invited to come and see the one they were convinced was the Messiah.

This custom of inviting and welcoming is as important to the being of the Church as are pews, the stained-glass windows, and the altar. Like the first disciples we too should want to find opportunities, not just to come and see, but to bring others. We must remember that Christians are not born … they are invited by those who are a part of the Church. They do not impose, for they invite. Those whose lives are changed by a gentle invitation: Come and see. No one told us to follow; no one forced us to master any holy laws. No one told us the answer to that question … If I were to die tonight, where I will spend eternity? Those who became followers of Jesus accepted His simple invitation to come and see.

He was neither manipulative nor pushy. No coercion, no intimidation; He simply employed the method we use to suggest a good film or a good pub … we say – come and see. Doesn’t it make sense that we should be able to talk about our faith and our Church with the same confidence we talk about a pub or a film?

I know that most of us who are members of St Peters Church Titchfield care about the Church and its people. We have a worship life that develops and supports those who come. There is a village life that gives individuals a sense of belonging, a feeling of participation in a community of values. There is a desire to help others with the basic bank food collection, messy church and café connect. We know we could do more, but this is a start. Behold, the Lamb of God … His body is finding manifestation in so much that we do. The church must continue to be fixed in Christ in order to go on being a living church.” This bleeding Saviour not only suffered mystically for believers but started the actual physical church with his physical blood being shed. He takes not only away the sins of the world but is establishing a called out people bought by that blood, those who are called to walk in godliness with Him. A people who not only obtain forgiveness of sins but eternal life with God. Nothing is more important nor significant then a bleeding Lamb on a cross. Do you see him?

Behold, the Lamb of God! There is a love that will not let us go; a love that does not wait for us to knock or ask, for Jesus invites us all into a bond with God.

He says, “Come and See.”

A bond is dynamic and vital, for it changes us from the inside out.

So, we have this familiar icon, The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

What do we see when we look at it?

Do we just see the Passover blood that saves us from sin?

Or, do we see a God who invites us into a partnership, A God who delivers us from our own selfishness and promises to change us and show us what life is all about.

As we sit here this morning can we feel Jesus looking at us and asking, “What are you looking for?” and accepting His invitation, “Come and see”.